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What are some common cat illnesses & symptoms?

What are some common cat illnesses & symptoms?

Numerous cat illnesses and their symptoms may cause you concern and may even be fatal if left untreated for an extended period. Our Poway veterinarians provide insight into warning signs and symptoms to watch for.

What are some common cat illnesses?

As a cat parent, you should be aware of the following illnesses. Prepare to visit your veterinarian if necessary, especially because cats tend to isolate themselves instinctively when they are ill. Three common feline illnesses and their symptoms are listed below.

Upper Respiratory Infections

Viruses and bacteria can infect your cat's upper respiratory tract—their throat, nose, and sinuses. Cats can contract feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus through something as simple as sharing a food or water bowl.

They can transmit this virus to other cats the same way, or by sneezing or coughing. It can also be passed during grooming. 

Symptoms include:

  • Gagging, drooling
  • Runny nose or clear/colored nasal discharge
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Decreased or lost appetite
  • Congestion 


If a cat doesn't produce sufficient insulin to balance blood sugar or glucose levels, they develop diabetes mellitus. Left untreated, it may lead to several serious symptoms, such as:

  • Thirst
  • Increased urination
  • An increased appetite (as the body cannot use the energy in food) or loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Motor function problems
  • Coma
  • Death

If diabetes is not properly managed, it can shorten a cat's lifespan and cause a variety of health problems, including nerve disorders. Additionally, it may result in life-threatening emergencies. Treatment may include insulin injections and will be tailored to the patient's specific needs.


Uncontrolled cell growth can result in cancer, which can affect a wide variety of organs and cells throughout the cat's body. The disease begins in a cell, before attaching to the tissue beneath the skin and possibly spreading to other areas.

Cancer is frequently caused by the Feline Leukemia Virus, which cats can be tested for. Among the other causes are environmental toxins. If cancer is detected early enough during a physical examination, your veterinarian may be able to treat it.

Symptoms include:

  • Lumps or bumps that change in size or shape
  • Sores that do not heal
  • An odor from the mouth
  • Unexplained bleeding or discharge
  • Marked increase or decrease in appetite
  • Chronic weight loss
  • Difficulty urinating or defecating

Depending on whether the tumor is detected and diagnosed early enough, the type of cancer and its extent, the specific location within the body, and other factors, a variety of treatments such as radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy may be attempted.

What should I do if my cat is ill?

If your cat is ill and exhibiting any of the symptoms listed above, you must take them to the vet immediately. We have an in-house laboratory, pharmacy, and emergency vet clinic at Best Friends Veterinary Hospital to ensure that your pet receives the care they require (help for after-hours emergencies is also available).

Do you suspect your cat is sick? Our vets are experienced in diagnosing and treating many common illnesses and conditions. Book an appointment at Best Friends Veterinary Hospital today.

New Patients Welcome

Best Friends Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Poway companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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